I guess it could be said that at last week's Globe 2010 Conference, people were watching their p's and q's...and f's...and still finding a way to tell it.
One of the most heartening awakenings to come out of the conference was to see corporate leadership acknowledge the fact that we can't solve these problems with the same minds that created them.
Nicholas Parker, Executive Chairman, Cleantech Group LLC, based out of San Francisco stated that, yes, much of these issues of fuel efficiency, GHG emission reduction and Climate Change are questions of technology. “The technology is interpersonal neurobiology.” [Meaning the way we think.] “This is the technology. [here he tapped his forehead] We're not going to solve the problems with the minds that created them.”
He added that we need “hypergrowth in happiness.”
“Climate change is not a problem. It's a symptom of a problem. We have an accounting problem. We're liquidating the assets of our resources and calling it income...The failure to imagine the future is what's getting us here. If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there? So, where the puck are we going?” he asked the large audience assembled to hear him and others speak on the Town Hall panel. “We are going to look back in 30-40 years and see that this was a much easier problem to solve than we thought. We need to think along the lines of an abundance economy and we need to be inclusive.”
Joining him in the discussion was David Runnalls, President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Ottawa, Canada, “The fact is we don't have much time. We have to make a major dent in GHG emissions by 2020. 2050 is too easy a goal because we'll all be dead by then. We have to get going on this idea and do something with it. We can't just fiddle around with it.”
Tony Manwaring, CEO of Tomorrow's Company, London, UK noted the instability that comes from the world heating up – food scarcity issues, national security. He defined a green economy as one where “economic, social, spiritual and environmental capital are valued.”
He stated that “two years ago [the Globe Conference is every two years] we were talking about getting real. We need to bring the future into the present.” He shared that he missed his kids. An interesting point given that most of the panels were dominated by male speakers with a light sprinkling of the occasional woman and no kids were featured. Given that we are discussing to ad nauseum the future of the Earth's resources, it would make sense to include in that discussion some of the people who will be around living on it. Or is that just my particular brand of logic?
Manwaring continued by pointing out that there needs to be established relationships between government, business and civil society. Runnalls chimed in noting that there is a false dichotomy of top-down or bottom-up instigation for change and shift. He called out the “constipation of the international process. Sooner or later we have to come to an international agreement to reduce GHG emissions that has a greater amount of equity globally.”
On another panel, “Now What? Dialogue On Implications For Business From Cop 15,” Graeme Sweeney, Exec. VP, CO2, Shell International Petroleum Co., Ltd. noted that “This is an AND conversation. Not a dialectic. It's not governments or corporations. It's governments and corporations.”
Speaking on the same topic, Dan Hendrix, Pres. And CEO of Interface Inc. showed some empathy for the little guy when he said that, “The reason why companies don't get on board with it is because the CEO doesn't get on board with it. And you have to have a board [of directors] that goes along with it. Interface is now the darlings of Wall Street – because we're green!” His lieutenant, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley spoke at the women's networking luncheon, as well.
Fast forward to Friday, the final day of the conference, back at the Town Hall Meeting. Moderator Christopher Henderson, Pres. Lumos Energy, Ottawa, inspired attendees when he said that “We're going to make our luck today.” He also posed the challenge, “What are you going to take away from the conference? What are you going to do on Monday?”
British Columbia's Minister of State for Climate Action, John Yap stated that it's all about choices. “Green is mainstream,” he said, “Climate change is the challenge of our generation.” He cited the example of a new condo development in Victoria that is using geothermal energy for its power infrastructure, thereby significantly lowering its carbon footprint. “The consumers who choose those condos will be paying for the geothermal rather than, for example, granite kitchen countertops. Choices. It's about choices.”
*Note: Christopher Henderson's book on First Nation's Energy Rights is due out in August. The book discusses his area of expertise which is “legal proceedings and aboriginal rights” as they pertain to land holdings and renewable energy sources.